It is a conceit of each generation to think that they live in a particularly unusual period of history, seeing the troubles they experience as somehow particularly difficult and looking back nostalgically to the past. For example, some conservatives in the US look back on the 1950s and 1960s as a wonderful period that they wish they could return to. Trump’s slogan of ‘Make America Great Again‘ was designed to appeal to them by echoing that sentiment. In reality, that period was one of deep segregation, racism, sexism, and homophobia, not to mention living with the fear of nuclear war that required taking part in drills. It was by no means an idyllic time.
The reality is that there is a mix of the good and the bad in each generation’s lives and how they view the past depends on which segment of the population they descended from, whether it was the ins or the outs.
But we can sometimes identify some unique characteristics that can be overlaid on each generation’s experiences. I have been trying to think of what, some day in the future, people are going to look back at this current time and see as its identifying characteristic. I think that it may be to wonder how it could be that so many people in the US who had access to good information could, and urged on by major political leaders, refuse to recognize the existence of a deadly virus that was causing a pandemic and affecting people all around them, refuse to take the vaccine that had significant evidence of being able to prevent death and serious illness, fight against common-sense preventative measures, and then when they do get sick, decide to put into their bodies all manner of untested treatments. I do not know if anything even remotely similar has happened in the past or in any other country.
This is a level of irrational behavior that speaks to some deep-seated problems in the national psyche.